Individual Hexagrams

This page presents excerpts of the descriptions of the individual hexagrams from the Taoist Yi Ching, by Liu Yiming. Descriptions of all hexagrams are related to the firing process. Some hexagrams represent that the firing process is occuring, others that one is far away from the firing process. Some hexagrams are about the balance or inbalance of yin (flexibilty) and yand (firmness).

The Can Tong Qi (Triplex Unity, 2nd century Taoist text) sees the hexagrams #1 The Creative and #2 Earth as crucible and furnace and hexagrams #29 Mastering Pitfalls and #30 Fire as the medicinal ingredients. Therefore the rest of the remaining 60 hexagrams stand for the firing times. -- Yu Yan (13th c. Taoist master, Commentary on Cantong Qi - 2nd c. Taoist text)

On the one hand the hexagrams speak about reaching pure yang by employing the firing process to burn away false yin. One the other hand, doing this requires the balance of yin (flexibilty) and yand (firmness).

The sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching, with three hundred and eighty-four lines, only elucidate the modes of yin and yang, and the representations of balance and imbalance. If you understand the meaning of balance and imbalance of yin and yang, you can harmonize yin and yang, spontaneously fitting in with the symbols of the hexagrams. Nevertheless, the deluded who do not investigate this meaning instead cling to the symbols; they do not know that when the adepts have spoken of Difficulty (hexagram #3 ䷂) in the morning and practising Darkness (hexagram #4 ䷃) at night, this is to teach people that the arising of yang is difficult and the falling of yang is darkness. Settled (hexagram #63 ䷾)and Unsettled (hexagram #64 ䷿) teach people that when yin and yang are joined, that is being settled, and when yin and yang have not yet joined, that is being unsettled. The meanings concealed in these hexagrams are the meanings of these four hexagrams; considered in this light, the other sixty hexagrams are all permutations of yin and yang. Understanding the symbol, forget the words — the idea is clear of itself. If you understand the meaning of the hexagram symbols, the pivot of heaven is in your hand, the axis of earth depends on your mind . Wherever you go, everywhere is the Tao — there is no need to cling to the hexagram symbols, for you spontaneously accord with them.
-- Liu Yiming, commentary on Understanding Reality

The Hexagrams

Hexagram #1 ䷀ The Creative: Pure yang, it represents strength, firmness, life, innate knowledge, primal unified energy.

Hexagram #2 ䷁ Earth: Pure yin; represents receptivity, submission, humility, obedience, yielding, flexibility, stillness, essence, innate capacity.

Hexagram #3 ䷂ Difficulty: Beginning of the process of fostering the strength of primal energy, the difficult process of breaking out of acquired temporal conditioning and bringing the primordial to the fore, the process known as "advancing the yang fire."

Hexagram #4 ䷃ Darkness: This hexagram represents starting the operation of yin convergence.

Hexagram #5 ䷃ Attending: Waiting for the proper timing in gathering primal energy, gradually restoring the primordial in the midst of the temporal.

Hexagram #6 ䷅ Contention: This hexagram represents the downfall of truth and the contest for victory.

Hexagram #7 ䷆ Army/Discipline: Using the primordial to repel conditioning, using the real to get rid of the false .

Hexagram #8 ䷇ Accord: This hexagram, represents yin following yang.

Hexagram #9 ䷈ Nurturance by the Small: This hexagram represents nurturing the great by the small.

Hexagram #10 ䷉ Treading: Nurturing inner strength by outward submissiveness, being firm but not impetuous, growing through humility.

Hexagram #11 ䷊ Tranquility: Harmony of strength and flexibility.

Hexagram #12 ䷋ Obstruction: Submitting inwardly to personal desire, acting aggressive outwardly.

Hexagram #13 ䷌ Sameness with People: This hexagram represents mixing in with the ordinary world, concealing one's illumination, skillfully assimilating to others.

Hexagram #14 ䷌ Great Possession: This hexagram represents wealth with daily renewal, governing the inward with strictness.

Hexagram #15 ䷎ Humility: Inwardly firm, outwardly flexible, having personal attainment but not dwelling on it.

Hexagram #16 ䷏ Joy: This hexagram represents summoning yang by yin.

Hexagram #17 ䷏ Following: This hexagram represents true feeling returning to essence. When true feeling returns to essence, it can be called restored elixir.

Hexagram #18 ䷑ Degeneration: This hexagram represents abandoning the false and returning to the true.

Hexagram #19 ䷒ Overseeing: Keeping watch over the restoration and growth of primal energy and repulsion of acquired energy of conditioning.

Hexagram #20 ䷓ Observation: Alertness, gradually progressing through receptivity to the requirements of the time, inner vigilance.

Hexagram #21 ䷑ Biting Through: This hexagram represents the study of investigating things and finding out principle.

Hexagram #22 ䷑ Adornment: This hexagram represents hidden practice and secret cultivation.

Hexagram #23 ䷖ Stripping Away; Submission to desire, acquired mundanity dissolving away the celestial energy.

Hexagram #24 ䷗ Return: Return of consciousness of reality, activity obeying the mind.

Hexagram #25 ䷑ Fidelity (No error): This hexagram represents vigorous advancement of yang.

Hexagram #26 ䷙ Nurturance of the Great: This hexagram represents incubation nurturing the spiritual embryo.

Hexagram #27 ䷚ Jaws (nourishment): This hexagram represents choosing good and holding fast to it, becoming empty to seek fulfillment.

Hexagram #28 ䷚ Excess of the Great: This hexagram represents harmonious blending of the medicinal substances, in which fullness requires use of emptiness.

Hexagram #29 ䷜ Mastering Pitfalls: One of the four timeless hexagrams. This hexagram represents the presence of white within black, restoring yang within yin.

Hexagram #30 ䷝ Fire: One of the four timeless hexagrams; This hexagram represents illumination with inner openness.

Hexagram #31 ䷞ Sensitivy: This hexagram represents harmonization of yin and yang.

Hexagram #32 ䷞ Constancy: This hexagram represents genuine application in real practice.

Hexagram #33 ䷠ Withdrawal:: Storing positive energy, subduing energy, exercising strength with restraint, not using power arbitrarily.

Hexagram #34 ䷡ Great Power: Promoting vigorous yang energy; ability to act or not act, at will; transcendence of ordinary capacities.

Hexagram #35 ䷢ Advance:This hexagram represents being sincere and clear-minded, advancing the firing.

Hexagram #36 ䷢ Concealment of Illumination:This hexagram represents being personally illumined and truthful, withdrawing the firing.

Hexagram #37 ䷤ People in the home: This hexagram represents refining the self, mastering the mind, turning the attention around to gaze inward.

Hexagram #38 ䷤ Disharmony: This hexagram represents conciliation and adjustment when yin and yang are separated.

Hexagram #39 ䷤ Halting (Trouble): Hexagram #39 Halting— This hexagram represents preserving the primordial in the midst of the temporal.

Hexagram #40 ䷧ Liberation: This hexagram represents taking advantage of the right time to gather the medicine.

Hexagram #41 ䷨ Reduction: This hexagram represents the existence of increase within reduction;

Hexagram #42 ䷩Increase: This hexagram represents entering the Tao gradually, without either rushing or lagging, increasing yang while decreasing yin.

Hexagram #43 ䷪ Parting: This Hexagram represents detachment from discriminating consciousness, repelling the energy of external influences.

Hexagram #44 ䷫ Meeting: This hexagram represents warding off mundanity and preserving celestial energy.

Hexagram #45 ䷬ Gathering: This hexagram represents gathering the medicines together.

Hexagram #46 ䷭ Rising: This hexagram represents carefully watching the firing process.

Hexagram #47 ䷮ Exhaustion: This hexagram represents polishing and refining body and mind.

Hexagram #48 ䷮ The Well: This hexagram represents accumulation of effort to cultivate virtue.

Hexagram #49 ䷰ Revolution: This hexagram represents refining yin energy.

Hexagram #50 ䷱ The Cauldron: The cauldron stands for the process of refinement by fire (the firing process).

Hexagram #51 ䷲ Thunder: This hexagram represents acting so as to proceed on the Path, warily practicing introspection.

Hexagram #52 ䷳ Mountain: This hexagram represents nurturing energy by quietude, discerning the good and holding fast to it.

Hexagram #53 ䷴ Gradual Progress: This hexagram represents gradual practice following the appropriate order.

Hexagram #54 ䷵ Making a Young Girl Marry: This is the hexagram of seeking the real within the false.

Hexagram #55 ䷶ Abundance: This hexagram represents operating the fire and preventing danger.

Hexagram #56 ䷷ Travel: This hexagram represents nurturing the fire and transcending the world.

Hexagram #57 ䷸ Wind: This hexagram represents progressing on the path by flexible obedience.

Hexagram #58 ䷹ Joy: This hexagram represents joy in practicing the Tao.

Hexagram #59 ䷸ Dispersal: This hexagram represents yin and yang being lost in confusion, then reordered.

Hexagram #60 ䷻ Discipline: This hexagram represents practicing obedience in unfavorable circumstances, adaptably keeping to the Tao.

Hexagram #61 ䷼ Faithfulness in the Center: This hexagram represents seeking fulfillment by being empty.

Hexagram #62 ䷽ Predominance of the Small: This hexagram represents being fulfilled and thus acting empty. 

Hexagram #63 ䷾ Settled: This hexagram represents forestalling danger, foreseeing perils, and stably completing the basis of the elixir.

Hexagram #64 ䷿ Unsettled: This hexagram represents refining the self and repelling yin, waiting for the appropriate time with suppressed yang.

TheTwelve Sovereign Hexagrams
(Click to enlarge)

TheTwelve Sovereign Hexagrams with corresponding hexagrams
(Click to enlarge)